Amsterdam Festivals and Events
If there’s one thing Amsterdam loves, it’s a party, and there are plenty of world-famous events in Amsterdam every year which celebrate various aspects of the city’s cultural make-up. Whether you’re visiting for arts, music, cultural events or culinary expertise, there’s a festival for you.
Music is a big deal in Amsterdam, particularly dance music, so it’s no surprise to see that there are plenty of musical events on the calendar each year.
Every October, the city is taken over by the famous Amsterdam Dance Event, which is a celebration of all things dance music including shows, concerts, conferences, workshops and more, culminating in an event at the Amsterdam Arena where the current best DJ in the world is named.
For something completely different, try the Opera in the Garden festival. Each summer, the curators of the Museum Van Loon organise a series of operas which you can enjoy from the beauty of the museum’s gardens. These operas take place twice daily.
More classical music can be found at the Grachtenfestival, which is an annual celebration of classical music with a focus on younger, up-and-coming talent taking place every August. Meanwhile, underground music fans can enjoy the Sound of the Underground festival (SOTU) every April, which highlights the best new music, whether that’s rock, indie, hip hop, jazz or dance music.
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If you’re looking for something to keep the kids busy on your trip to Amsterdam, then you’re in luck, as every year there are educational and interactive events designed just for children.
Cinekid is the largest international film, television and new media festival in the world, and is held every autumn. Each year it is attended by over 50,000 children who get to experience over 500 media productions including feature films, documentaries, short films, animations and more.
Science Weekend is an educational weekend designed to teach kids the wonders of science. Taking place at the University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam Science Park and NEMO Science Centre, there will be special events covering biology, chemistry and physics.
Every June, visitors can take part in the WESTwaARTS festival in Amsterdam’s Erasmuspark. Offering family-friendly theatre performances, food, drinks and music, as well as craft and dance workshops, plus much more!
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Holland has a number of annual cultural events which make for brilliant tourist experiences, whether you’re travelling as family, a couple or with friends.
The biggest of these events is King’s Day (formerly Queen’s Day), which is celebrated on 27 April to commemorate the birth of King Willem-Alexander. The event attracts 1 million visitors each year, who come to take part in the flea markets, festivities and parties throughout the city.
Every winter the arrival of Sinterklaas (St Nicholas) marks the beginning of pre-Christmas festivities in the city. Slightly different to Santa Claus, Sinterklaas arrives in the city by steamboat or on horseback with his servant Zwarte Piet and parades through the city for a truly magical winter experience.
The Light Festival sees wonderful illuminations take over the city each year in the winter, producing stunning views across the canals.
Holland has a large population of Indonesian descent, so it’s no surprise to see INDOmania – a celebration of all things Indonesian – growing in popularity every year. With music, films, debates, food and more, it’s a fantastic sight into one of Holland’s biggest immigrant populations.
Food and Drink
Food, glorious food! We all love it, and there are plenty of festivals across the Dutch capital to celebrate the love of food.
If you’re a foodie looking for a good time in Amsterdam, then look no further than Food Festival Amsterdam, which takes place each March in the colossal Europahal. The festival is free to attend, although you pay €5 to rent a glass should you want a drink. Once you’re inside, you can sample street food and light bites from a number of pop-up restaurants and cafes.
Another fantastic food festival is Taste of Amsterdam, which takes over Amstelpark each summer for 4 days of food-related frenzy. Jazz music plays in the background while Amsterdam’s top chefs fashion sample-sized portions of their best dishes and live cook-offs take place. General entry costs €12 and you have to pay for your food in tokens.
The Amsterdam Craft Beer Festival also takes place in June, with breweries coming from all over the country to partake in tasting sessions and set up shop while revellers enjoy live music, DJs and food that is either prepared or paired with excellent craft beer.
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